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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Pryor man sentenced to prison for assault on elderly man

BILLINGS—A Pryor man convicted by a jury of beating an elderly man and causing facial injuries was sentenced today to 54 months in prison and three years of  supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

After a two-day trial, a jury on Nov. 13, 2019 found Joseph Nathan Smells, 34, guilty of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

“Our senior citizens deserve our respect, not abuse. Elder abuse is an all too common crime in our communities. We will prosecute those who harm our elders to the full extent of the law. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne Torske, Legal Intern Ryan Warner, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI for investigating and prosecuting this case,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

In documents filed in the case, the prosecution presented evidence that Smells assaulted the victim, an elderly man, by head-butting and punching him on Feb. 13, 2019. The victim suffered multiple facial injuries that required surgery.

The assault occurred in Pryor, on the Crow Indian Reservation, as the victim was sitting in a vehicle. While dropping off another passenger, the group in the vehicle passed a house. The driver noticed that the door had been kicked in and stopped to investigate. The driver walked toward the house and saw Smells just inside the house and another man. The driver told them both to leave. Smells and the driver argued, and as the driver tried to call police, Smells walked to the vehicle, where the victim was a passenger. Smells spoke briefly to the victim, then jerked open the door and began assaulting him. After the fight, Smells ran away.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne Torske and Legal Intern Ryan Warner prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI.

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Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated April 22, 2020